Nature Matters is a tile-based isometric puzzle game that is a mixture of Q-Bert’s puzzles meeting Splatoon’s inking. Although the goal is to walk over every tile without backtracking, the star of the show is the messaging behind the gameplay.
The developers built a game around nature, focusing on the fact that it is everyone’s responsibility to protect it. They even mention in the credits that if one person becomes more aware of how precious life and nature truly are, then this game will have been worth it. Props must be given to developer Digital Melody for going out of their way to emphasize this.
The player assumes the role of a plant spirit, growing each time a young child takes time to water plants each day. One day, when the child grows older and is introduced to a cell phone, he stops watering the plant and life begins to wither. In order to reach this child, the player must play through all four seasons composed of 25 stages each.
Just like Q-Bert, the player must walk over every tile and reach the goal. However, the difference here is the player cannot re-walk over tiles. The first few dozen stages are boringly easy but eventually start to become more complex as teleporters and keys that unlock new passageways are introduced. Those few times you might get stuck, the built-in hint system starts the player in the right direction but never provides the full solution. The hint system can also be used at any time so players shouldn’t really have an opportunity to get too frustrated. Once the campaign is finished, the Endless Mode provides a much higher challenge for dedicated players.
As the plant spirit glides over tiles, she awakens all sorts of plant life that drips with personality. You know how the ink in Splatoon has that liquid-y drip quality to it? Well, it is sort of like that here only with plants that magically bloom in an instant. It is a cool effect that never gets old. Everything is well animated too, presented in a way like the world, tiles, and plants themselves are breathing. The pastel colors also work hand-in-hand with the narrative and “let’s all be nice and protect the planet” gameplay. The soundtrack also works well with its spa-like qualities.
My complaints with Nature Matters are not game breaking but the lack of certain quality of life features are a little disappointing. For example, there is no option to undo your last move. Instead, the player must tap one button to full restart, a feature that actually takes a few long seconds to revert. The flowing movements of the playable nature fairy is also a tad bit loose and floaty. That is why it would have been beneficial to have an undo option since it is easy to over shoot one tile. This game is only compatible with the analog stick too. Perhaps if the D-pad on the Pro Controller was active this could have helped alleviate some of these issues so why it wasn’t an included option is a bit confusing.
Nature Matters is a simple puzzle game that anyone can play and finish. Most stages are so easy though it becomes a slog by the end of the first season. Although the gameplay is very simple and the visuals are rather pretty, it is the messaging behind this downloadable title that stands out. In the constantly busy modern world, we should all pause for a moment, reflect what is most important, put down the smart phone, and protect our planet.